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You are here: Home Football Menu / Archives Football Recaps Clackamas Edges South Medford In 6A State Championship Game

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Clackamas Edges South Medford In 6A State Championship Game

Field Goal DSC04994Or maybe that should read games. Saturday's title game was really 3 games in one, each unfolding differently, and not giving any indication of the twists to come, on the way to a 31-30 win for Clackamas on Jeff Nelson's 37 yard field goal with 3 seconds left.

 

But then, given it was the first ever appearance for either school in the state football championship game, perhaps there was extra incentive to get the most out of it.

 

The cold rainy weather at Reser seemed to affect undefeated Clackamas' more built for basketball on turf than it did South Medford, but maybe it was the Panthers' diversity instead. Either way, the Panthers looked the part of the team that had the upper hand throughout the first half, building a 24-14 halftime lead.

 

Further, it was South Medford that held a substantial edge in the passing game, as Robbie Patterson completed 12 of 18 passes, including 2 touchdown tosses to Jalen Owens and another to Jaylin Parnell, and 224 yards, compared to Mitchell Modjeski throwing for only 101 yards for Clackamas.

 

The first two touchdown passes also capped the two longest drives of the first half, yet both were took under 3 minutes to conduct.

 

Simply put, the results and the metrics didn't align with the eye test to that point.

 

Aided by a penalty for a hit out of bounds that was 10 feet in bounds, Modjeski changed the look of things quickly to start the second half, wrapping 4 completions around the penalty to put together a 65 yard drive capped by his 17 yard completion to Cole Turner to pull the Cavalier within 3 points.

 

But then the big play to the big name factor came into play.

 

Cota DSC04958

 

Relatively inconsequential to the contest in the first half, the Panthers' Chase Cota, who had a wet ball slip out of his wet fingers on his best chance for a big play in the first half, heated up the Cavaliers' secndary with a 61 yard completion down the right hash, beating double coverage in the process, to set up Patterson's 5 yard run to rebuild a 2 score margin not 5 minutes into the second half.

 

However, Peyton Shipley, who had started the scoring with a 31 yard field goal just 70 seconds into the game, and had been perfect on 3 prior extra point attempts, would miss the extra point. No one realized how significant that would be about an hour later.

 

Soft coverage by the Panthers allowed Modjeski to convert a second and 26, and that quickly led to a timeout by South Medford coach Bill Singler to talk about that.

 

James Millspaugh DSC04930

 

All it did was slow the pace a little though, as Clackamas's James Millspaugh, above, still ran in from 8 yards out for his 3rd touchdown run of the day to make it a 30-28 game with a little under 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

 

Clackamas used a full out blitz to shut down South Medford to finish the period, and no one in Reser Stadium though there wouldn't be any more points scored in the game until there were literally only 3 seconds left.

 

Or that the game would swing 5 times in the last minute and a half of the game.

 

But it did, and when Nelson drilled the 37 yard field goal, with just 3 seconds left, it set off a celebration that stretched from the northwest end zone of Reser where the kick had sailed through that extended to the southeast end of the stadium.

 

After covering the ball at the end of a wild sequence of laterals, Clackamas had their 6A State Championship to cap a perfect 14-0 season, and coach Joe Bushman had his second one, after leading Benson to the 1988 title.

 

"It's been a long time since that day," Bushman said, "but I've still got the game ball from that day. I'm going to take this game ball (from today's game) and give it to Mitchell (Modjeski). The way he led that last drive was special."

 

After South Medford had led most of the way in an up and down the field affair, it looked like the Panthers would pull out the win in a field-position ball control 4th quarter that they were beaten badly in terms of field position.

 

Clackamas kept South Medford bottled up so well that there wasn't even a play run in Cavalier territory until there was less than 2 minutes to go in the game. This despite the Cavaliers oddly going for a 4th and 2 gamble at the Panther 42 when playing for field position for a go ahead field goal was already the apparent strategy to win the game.

 

The gamble failed, and it contributed to Clackamas's inability to squeeze any points out of the lopsided field they dominated all quarter.

 

The Panthers appeared to seal the deal when they finally crossed midfield with under 2 minutes to go, ironically on a 4th down gamble of their own, which Patterson picked up on second effort, after apparently being stopped short.

 

And when Patterson broke off a 17 yard gain on the next play, it was the South Medford fans that were already gearing up for a celebration.

 

Fumble DSC04985

 

But on the next play, after Parnell had gashed the middle of the Clackamas secondary for 9 more yards, the Cavaliers' Justice Reagan knocked the ball out of Parnell's arms, and Braden Bettles jumped on the loose ball at the 21 yard line.

 

The Panthers had their chance to seal the deal with 20 seconds left, but Evan Dallas couldn't wrap up what would have been a championship winning interception on a swing pass into the left flat.

 

The reprieve resulted in Modjeski finding Cole Turner, who was also the target on the near interception for the 18 yard completion that set up the game winning field goal.

 

"This was a battle of 2 real championship quality teams," Bushman felt. "It really speaks to the kids, who had the heart to stick with it through all that happened. We practice the 2 minute drill, and we did as recently as yesterday, so they know what to do, what to run in situations like that."

 

"But with all that happened today, its more than that. The coaches have to keep composed to model to them, so they don't see any loss of control. To never give up was special."

 

Mitchell Modjeski DSC04914

 

Modjeski finished with 18 completions on 29 throws, for 230 yards, and Millspaugh had a game high 160 yards rushing on a game high 29 carries for the Cavaliers, who overall ran for 233 yards.

 

Robbie Patterson DSC04917

 

Patterson completed 15 of 23 passes, for 291 yards, but the Panthers ran for only 150 yards on the day against a Cavalier defense that wasn't exactly a physical match on the line of scrimmage, but used speed to flow to the ball well.

 

Owens and Cota each had 5 catches, for 102 and 90 yards respectively, for South Medford, while Aric Bergers led Clackamas, with a game high 7 catches for 74 yards.

 

"We moved out (to Clackamas) 11 years ago, and this is the culmination of effort for a bunch of kids that have been together for 10 years," Bushman concluded.

 

Championship DSC05003

 

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 (Photos by Andy Wooldridge)

 

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